The UFC returns to the Apex after a short break for a short-notice middleweight main event bout that looks to clear up the top of the division.
Marvin Vettori was scheduled to fight Darren Till, but a training injury for the Brit means Kevin Holland has stepped in just three weeks after his last fight to take another chance at the main event. A win for Vettori will go a long way to him proving he deserves a title shot and rematch against Israel Adesanya, but Holland has his own point to prove after his defeat to Derek Brunson at UFC Vegas 22.
Elsewhere on the card, Nina Nunes (formerly known as Ansaroff) makes her return to the octagon after giving birth last year when she takes on another new mother in Mackenzie Dern in a fight high up on the strawweight rankings too.
Last time out at UFC 260, we went 8/10 on the night to improve our record to 270/426 (63.38%) with 121 perfect picks (44.81%).
Mike Perry (14-7) vs Daniel Rodriguez (13-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
The ever colourful Mike Perry makes his return to the octagon after losing three of his last four, when he takes on Daniel ‘D-Rod’ Rodriguez in the welterweight division.
Perry bounced back from a two-fight losing streak with a dominant win over Mickey Gall at UFC Vegas 4 before getting outstruck by Tim Means at UFC 255, while Rodriguez had won nine in a row including a stunning knockout over Dwight Grant at UFC Vegas 7 before dropping a decision to Nicolas Dalby at UFC 255 also.
‘Platinum’ is a striker with powerful punches and a pretty decent wrestling game, but despite being naturally talented when it comes to fighting he just doesn’t care. He’s had issues with alcohol and dieting in the past and now he comes up against a man who hits harder and is taking this game very seriously.
Rodriguez has crazily heavy hands but Perry has an iron chin and both guys have got some deficiencies in their cardio but it’s hard to pick Perry when you don’t know which version will turn up. He hasn’t knocked anyone out since 2017 and I think Rodriguez does enough to get a decision win.
PICK – Daniel Rodriguez via Decision
Nina Nunes (10-6) vs Mackenzie Dern (10-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
A battle of the mothers in the strawweight division as Nina Nunes (formerly Ansaroff) returns from child birth to take on Mackenzie Dern.
Nunes has won four in a row in the build up to her last fight before getting outworked by Tatiana Suarez back in June 2019, while Dern has won three in a row by submitting Hannah Cifers and then Randa Markos at UFC Vegas 11 before beating Virna Jandiroba in a decision at UFC 256.
Nunes has tremendous wrestling and cardio and throws some really good combinations with her hands, while Dern is a jiu-jitsu master who has started working on her kickboxing game. The striking still needs work and she will need to get the fight to the ground to stand a chance of winning and I back Nunes to be able to keep the fight standing for the longest period because Dern’s takedown attempts are awful. If the fight goes down it’s Dern’s to lose.
PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2
Sam Alvey (33-14-1) vs Julian Marquez (8-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
‘Smilin’ Sam Alvey returns to the middleweight division to take on the man who gave Miley Cyrus a shoutout last time out Julian Marquez. Alvey is winless in his last five, losing four in a row before a draw with Da Un Jung at UFC 254, while Marquez returned after nearly three years out with a memorable submission win over Maki Pitolo at UFC 258 earlier this year.
Alvey has good takedown defence and a good right hook counter, but other than that he tends to just wait for a chance to land it and is hilariously bad to watch in the cage. Marquez on the other hand loves absolute chaos and throws big punches in bunch with wild aggression, who has pretty decent submissions too.
The likelihood is that Alvey will land his big right hand at some point, but with 20lbs of less power behind it against a young fighter with a sturdy chin, I don’t think it gets the job done. That means Marquez can go crazy as he loves to and I think he’s able to get a stoppage win.
PICK – Julian Marquez via Knockout, Round 1
Arnold Allen (16-1) vs Sodiq Yusuff (11-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
An absolute banger of a featherweight bout between England’s Arnold Allen and another hot prospect in Sodiq Yusuff. Allen has won nine in a row including wins over Gilbertz Melendez and Nick Lentz most recently while Yusuff is on a six-fight win streak himself. Both make their first appearances since January 2020.
Yusuff is a tremendously powerful striker, who has great calf kicks and a very solid overhand right while Allen is a really good, well-rounded fighter who has split his knockout and submission wins at 5/4. Allen is a really good pressure fighter and opts for volume over power, using those combinations to close distance and get takedowns.
Yusuff is one of the most powerful fighters in the division and he does a good job of landing accurate strikes, so if he can take Allen’s takedowns away from him he has a great chance of landing those heavy strikes and moving into the rankings with a big win.
PICK – Sodiq Yusuff via Knockout, Round 2
Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) vs Kevin Holland (21-6) – (Middleweight/185lbs)
The main event is between one very underrated middleweight contender in Marvin Vettori against the ‘big mouth’ of Kevin Holland, who steps in just 21 days after his last fight. Vettori stepped in on late notice against Jack Hermansson at UFC Vegas 16 to outwork him for a decision win, while Holland went 5-0 in 2020 before being dominated by Derek Brunson just three weeks ago at UFC Vegas 22.
Vettori has good power in his hands but his best work comes when he gets hold of you, takes you down and lands ground and pound from top position. Holland has got genuine one-punch knockout power on the feet, or his back if you ask Jacare Souza, but he struggles against wrestlers who know how to control him from the top.
Vettori is one of those fighters, who has a good chin but is just efficient in all his movements. If Holland comes in with the same antics he did against Brunson where he plays up to the camera then he will get punished, but if he comes in focused and with a solid game plan he could land big punches on Vettori’s way in to put him out.
That seems highly unlikely to me though, because Vettori just doesn’t waste any chances and knows exactly how to get the job done. Vettori gets takedowns, beats Holland up for 25 minutes and then calls out Israel Adesanya for a rematch.
PICK – Marvin Vettori via Decision